Backsplashes have come a long way from their humble beginnings. Once installed only to protect walls from water, grease and food splatter, the original backsplashes were just four inches high and had little decorative appeal.
Today’s backsplashes are essential kitchen accents, adding vibrant pops of color, light and texture — in addition to protecting walls from inevitable kitchen messes. If your kitchen needs a face-lift, here are five dynamic backsplash ideas to provide a finishing touch.
1. Ceramic and glass tiles
- Cost: Moderate.
- Maintenance: Tiles are easy to clean, but grout can stain and should be resealed regularly.
Those craving historic authenticity need look no further than ceramic tile, the original backsplash material. Beautiful ceramic tiles remain popular for their durability, versatility, low maintenance and affordability — but today’s tiling options also include glass, which adds a captivating play of light. Whether you prefer glass or ceramic, you’ll find colors, shapes and patterns to fit with modern and traditional kitchens.
Tiles are generally resistant to both water and heat. They clean up easily, but the grout lines between them are vulnerable to stains.
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2. Chalkboard paint
- Cost: Low.
- Maintenance: Some chalkboard paints are difficult to clean; the backsplash may require touching up.
For a quick and affordable touch of whimsy, try a chalkboard paint backsplash. This special paint is made from hard pigments and dries to a finish much like a real chalkboard. Write menus and messages on it with regular chalk, or draw pictures. Use a standard chalk eraser or damp cloth to wipe your backsplash clean.
Chalkboard paint is usually classic black but is available in other colors too. For easy upkeep, look for chalkboard paints that are washable and scrubbable. While these backsplashes are fun and require only periodic touch-ups, be aware that a dark backsplash may make your kitchen look smaller.
3. Glass panels
- Cost: Moderate to high.
- Maintenance: Glass requires frequent cleaning to keep looking neat, but is easy to wipe down.
For a small kitchen, there’s nothing like glass to create the illusion of space and make a bold statement. Backsplashes made of smoked mirror or colorful glass panels can open up the room by reflecting light and give a kitchen a clean, modern look.
Glass is waterproof, low-maintenance and easy to wipe down, but because of its reflective surface, it requires more frequent cleaning to keep it looking neat. Splatters and fingerprints will show, especially on mirrors, making it an impractical choice for some.
- Cost: High.
- Maintenance: Stainless steel is easy to clean and low-maintenance; copper should be sealed regularly to maintain shine.
Much like glass, metals such as copper and stainless steel reflect light to brighten and open up space. Metal backsplashes come in many textures and sheens, including shiny, brushed and hammered. Some also include patterns.
Metal is a durable and heat-resistant option for modern or industrial aesthetics, and it tends to be expensive. Stainless steel requires little maintenance other than wiping up acidic splashes quickly, but copper may require sealing or a periodic salt and lemon rub to remove patina, which can make it look green.
- Cost: Moderate to high.
- Maintenance: Natural stone requires annual resealing, and rough surfaces can be difficult to clean; engineered quartz is low-maintenance and easy to clean.
From the elegance of polished granite to the understated vibe of slate, smooth cool stone makes any kitchen feel luxurious. Stone backsplashes come in countless colors and patterns to match almost any decor, and this popular choice could add value to your home.
No two natural stone backsplashes are exactly alike. And while they do require annual resealing, they’re highly durable and heat-resistant. Engineered quartz provides an attractive, low-maintenance alternative to natural stone while presenting a more uniform look.
Although stone can be expensive, don’t rule it out completely if your budget is limited. Pairing stone backsplashes with a more affordable countertop material can give your kitchen a high-end feel while keeping overall costs in check.
This article originally appeared on NerdWallet. Roberta Pescow is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: USexpansion@nerdwallet.com.